One of the most well-known and loved distilleries in America, Buffalo Trace in Kentucky has a long and interesting history.
The distillery started out as the Old Fire Copper Distillery and was owned by Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr.
Taylor was a legend in the Whiskey industry, but when he fell into financial ruin in he 1870s, Old Fire was sold to George T. Stagg.
Stagg himself was well known within the industry and had a keen ability for all things finance and sales.
When he bought the distillery, he kept Taylor on to run it. The two became a team and they created one of the best distilleries in America.
Stagg was so well respected that the distillery was renamed in his honour in 1904, becoming the George T. Stagg Distillery.
As well as Stagg and Taylor, the distillery also employed Albert B. Blanton, who started out working here at the age of 16.
Blanton had grown up next to the distillery and his hard work and talent saw him being promoted, until he as awarded the title of President in 1921.
It was a good thing he was in charge, as he was able to keep the distillery going throughout the prohibition period. He did this by obtaining a license from the government to stay open and produce medicinal spirits.
Today he is commemorated by the brand with the Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon.
The distillery continued to find success after prohibition and considering it was one of only four distilleries able to produce Whiskey left in Kentucky, competition was slim.
It was expanded and grew massively over the next decades.
Elmer T. Lee, another legend in the Whiskey industry also worked at Buffalo Trace during this time.
He was initially turned away by Blanton of all people, but came back to work the next anyway.
He started as a maintenance engineer but soon became the distillery’s first ever Master Distiller.
Lee saw the distillery through the next three decades, when Whiskey went through some ups and downs. It boomed in the 50s and 60s but saw a lack of interest in te 70s.
Despite this Lee kept them afloat and, like Blanton, was honoured with a similar bottling titled Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel.
The distillery maintained its success and was eventually bought over by the Sazerac Company, in 1992.
It went through years of renovation and was renamed Buffalo Trace in 1999, to commemorate the founding of Kentucky itself. The name refers to the lines carved out by migrating buffalo that lead explorers to the Kentucky River.
The distillery has thrived in recent decades and is now one of the biggest American Whiskey producers in the world.
It has won many accolades in that time and continues to produce excellent malt. They have set themselves up as innovators in the category, especially with the creation of their Warehouse X, a space specifically designed to run trials on Whiskey.
They are also still expanding, so watch this space to see what the next iteration of Buffalo Trace Distillery will look like!